Those would be Gideon the Ninth and Harrow the Ninth by Tamsyn Muir.
For the last couple of years now, I’ve been telling everyone I can get my hands on that they should read Gideon the Ninth. It’s a story about space necromancers solving a locked room mystery and so much more. Also, the sword fighting is tops.
Harrow the Ninth is a much more difficult book to recommend. First, because it’s a sequel and Gideon is very much a prerequisite to reading it. (Although, now that I think about it, it might be an easier book to understand if you don’t have to wade through the murk of your Gideon preconceptions…)
Still, I’ve been more fascinated by these books, as experiments in fiction, than almost anything I’ve read in the last several years. Also, the writing is just stellar, if you’re into reading sentences of pure delight.
Am I gushing too much? Maybe. You’ll have to read and find out for yourself.
If each type of organism on this planet experiences reality in a conpletely unique way, it is, in a sense, experiencing a completely different world than we are. In a sense, when that animal goes extinct, it’s not just the animal that’s gone, but an entire other world.
When this book came out, it took me by surprise. Although I think I keep fairly close tabs on when VanderMeer’s books are coming out, I’d never heard of this one, until after it had already arrived.
This book is delightfully strange. It’s fascinating to me the way VanderMeer’s writing veers between clipped, terse (but not uninteresting) prose and surrealistic excess. This book sits firmly between the two extremes. The writing here isn’t always surreal, but the things that happen in it certainly are!
An alternate reality Aleister Crowley makes for a pretty excellent villain, all in all. This book has all the hallmarks of your typical YA teenage hero having adventures, but contorts them into curious (or peculiar) shapes.